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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

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ArlBT from its connection with the deified Krishna, the city of Mathnra has
been a place of note from the niost distant antiquity. La Buddhist times it
WES one of the centres of that religion, and its sacred shrines and relics at*
tracted pilgrims even from China, two of whom have left records of their travels*
!the first, by name Fa Hian, spents as he informs us, thfee years in Western
Asiaj visiting all the places connected with events in the life of the great teacher
or of his immediate successors ; his main object being to collect authentic
copies of the oldest theological tests and commentaries^ to take back with him
to his own country. Commencing Ms journey from THbet, he passed success
sively through Kashmir, Kabul, Kandahar, and the Panjab, and so arrived in
Central India, the m&dkya-des of Hindu geographers.. Here the first kingdom
that he entered was Mathuri, with its capital of the same name sffcoatd on the
bank of the Jamum* All the people &om the highest to the lowest were staunch
Buddhists, and maintained that they had been so ever since the time of Sakys
Muni's translation. This statement must be accepted with considerable reserve)
since other evidence tends to show that Hinduism was the prevalent religion
during part of the interval between Buddha's death and Fa Mian's visit^ which
was made about the year 400 A. D. He assures us, however, that many of
the ecclesiastical establishments possessed copper plates engraved with the ori-
ginal deeds of endowment in attestation of their antiquity. In the capital—
where he rested a whole month—and its vicinity, on the opposite banks of the
river, were twenty monasteries, containing in all some %000 monks. There
were5 moreover, six relic-towers, or sMpas^ of which the most famous was the
one erected in hoEomr of the great apostle Sari-putra* The five other
axe also mentioned byname 5 two of them commemorated respectively Aaaacl%
the special patron of religions women3 and Mudgala-pntrnj the great doctor of
SamddM or contemplative devotion. The remaining three were dedicated te
the cultus of the AbM-dharma5 the Sntr% and the Tin&ya divisioms of the
sacred books, treating respectively of Metaphysics^ Belgian^ and Morality
tod known in Buddhist literature by the oollwiw            of the
or * three baskets.*